Moto Mechanics and Dengue Fever – Lima, Peru


Route Paracas, Peru – Lima, Peru (614, 1S)
Distance 286Km
Travel Time 7 hours (slow drive, engine problems)
Road Conditions Good tarmack, many buses & trucks
Weather Windy
Terrain Desert
Food and Petrol Frequent
Accommodation Link Hostel, Lima

We’ve had a good time in Paracas and are sad to leave, but the show must go on. At a quarter past eleven we’ve said farewell to our new friends and get riding. Our journey to Lima will be nerve-wracking as we’re riding with a problematic bike – the clacking CAM chain noise having got worse – and we’ll need to take it nice and easy, no more than 4000RPM.

Luckily we know the Pan Americana is totally asphalted so there’ll at least not be any additional strain on the bike from off-roading.

The way up to Lima is 255Km of desert scenery. Sand dunes, sandstone hills, sand planes, sandstone mountains, and occasionally you’re close enough to the sea to see waves crashing on to some beautiful beaches. The road is very good for the most part, a dual carriage highway from Chincha (after Pisco) all the way to Lima. There are a couple of toll gates on the way but on a bike you can bypass those on the right. There are also plenty of filling stations so fuel is not a problem.

We stop for a short break about 100Km before Lima, at some big, open-plan roadside restaurant. We intend to have a quick drink only but I cannot help but try some of the delicious looking pork chunks they’ve made over a fire using large, halved oil drums. They serve it cut up in a sandwich with some kind of fried vegetable added – looks like a slice of big banana but tastes more like potato. It’s very plain but nice. However this does end up giving me a bit of fun toilet time later in the night. Oh well, worth a try.

In Lima we encounter about the most terrible driving conditions we’ve experienced anywhere, ever! To make it worse we’re arriving during the afternoon rush hour. These folks drive like rabid dogs doing Death Race – buses, cars, trucks, all of them. Every lane is a passing lane and everyone is moving too slowly for everyone else. Drivers are so far up eachothers’ arses their faces are covered in shit and passing manouvres are more extreme than anything Hollywood has ever screened.


And if you’re on a bike…. well…. good luck to you! Be sure to know that to this raving horde you don’t mean shit. So you had better drive really smart or get off the road entirely.

We miss the Miraflores turn off (because of a nonexistent street sign obviously) but notice this quite quickly and turn around to find it quite easily. Then we mission around the are for over an hour to get to the area we’re headed to and then spend a further hour or so tracking down the list of hostels I have noted down as possible options to stay. (Should we gave got a GPS?)


As with other things, it’s always in the last place you look, but what we find at Link Hostel (Suarez 332, Miraflores; 11.00USD/pp discount 1USD) will keep us there for another two weeks. Firstly, outside, they have a BBQ and space to park our motorbike (not suitable for a big one though so GS riders will have to make other arrangements). Then, inside, we find some of the most comfortable hostel beds we have ever had the pleasure of sleeping in. Big, thick, firm mattresses and stiff, clean bedware. They have a kitchen, fast Internet, TV/DVD in a large common room with a bar. And the included breakfast, though basic, is fresh and good. And then there’s some really lovely ladies staffing the place, making it an all-round great place to be.


The big mercado near the historical centre is amazing. ou can find just about anything you’d like to eat there. We decide to stock up on fresh seafood to make our newly discovered Peruvian dish, ceviche. One of the ladies we buy from is very helpful and makes us a small portion right there at her shop, and with every other strange-looking sea-fruit she adds, she indicates to either Ebru or myself that it is particularly good for the genital area.


Our first mission in Lima is to get the bike fixed. We picked this area to stay because I have read some good feedback about a mechanic around here, and Link Hostel happens to be just a stone-throw away. We head down to Narcissa Colina 460 to find Tator Racing, however that mechanic no longer seems to be there. Instead, the Honda Desert Sport Racing outfit, which I gather used to be next door, now is next door as well as having taken over the space at number 460.

Not what I was hoping for, but nevertheless, I speak to Juan the mechanic there about my problems and he seems to be a trustworthy guy. His initial opinion about the noise I have is incorrect (he was talking about the piston connecting rod I believe) but when I approach the subject of changing the cam chain tensioner, he’s in agreement and from there on, step by step, he works with me to get the things I want checked and fixed, and is helpful with his mechanical knowledge and advice.

The other thing I like here – unlike in other Honda shops I have been, such as in Ica – is that I can discuss the issues with Juan directly and he can quote me a price for the work without any Honda sales rep getting involved to complicate matters. The only thing they deal with is selling me the parts and accessories in the shop next door.

Here’s what we do: the noise is, as I suspected, caused by a failed tensioner. Once we replace this the noise disappears. In my mind the engine still sounds a little different than before, but that could be my paranoia following all my past trauma. I am worried the un-tensioned cam chain may have taken damage or taken chunks out of the rubber guides, so we open up and have a look. The chain and guides look ok, and the primary oil filter hasn’t trapped any debris, so that confirms that the chain wasn’t rattling all over the place. We also check the oil pump is working ok. Next I get Juan ensure the valve timings are correct. I don’t know whether they were out but he sets them at .10mm ADM and .12mm ESC as per service manual specs. I take the opportunity to change the engine oil and filter, which is due anyway, and inspect for any evidence of metal shavings in it, but that seems not to be the case. This is the bill:

70.00PEN Juan’s work – not too bad
179.00PEN Tensioner (14520-KPF-912, Honda original)
15.72PEN NX4 Oil Filter (Honda original)
109.80PEN 3L Full Synth 15W50 Engine Oil
374.52PEN (roughly 144USD / 93GBP)

The next day’s test ride a few hundred kilometres down the coast goes well so we’re quite confident the engine is back to normal. However the rear tyre will need replacement in a couple of thousand Km and Lima’s the best opportunity we’ll get before hitting Brazil, so the next day we head back to Desert Sport.

215.35PEN Pirelli MT90 120/90/17
20.00PEN Changing Tyre
39.78PEN Slime Punture Prevention
235.35PEN (106USD / 69GBP)

Juan changes the tyre and at the same time I have him insert the heavy duty tube from my spares. I also buy a bottle of Slime and inject that for good measure, and take the old tube, which is nearly new, with me to put in my spares box. Having done got all the work I need done, the only thing remaining is to find a car/bike wash, but I don’t seem to be able to locate one anywhere, so when I meet Juan walking in town one afternoon and ask him, he tells me to bring it around the shop and for 15.00PEN he’ll wash it and clean my chain as well, which I really need done. I do this and I must say that it’s worth every penny, because when the bike comes out it looks as new, even the chain, which I was not expecting a good result on as it’s a shitty job to do properly.


Finally we have some time to relax and experience Lima’s touristical sites. This is quite easy with the metro bus system, which costs us only 1.50PEN/pp each way to the Centro Historico, and it’s quick and efficient. The historical centre is much more impressive than we expected! Large, well-kept buildings, plazas with beautiful lawns and flower gardens. The streets are wide and teeming with people until the wee hours of the night. We really enjoy it.


By night time we discover there’s a massive religious procession, some old saint tradition, coming through the city centre tonight. There’s a stage set up in the street with musical band and there are lots of people waiting. It’s supposed to go on until 6AM! We’d love to see it but by this time we are so tired and hungry, we pull the plug on it and head back to the Hostel.


Another biker is staying in our hostel named Garret. He’s an American who’s been living in Colombia a few years and has for the past 8 months been riding slowly Southwards to check it out. We get on well from the outset – he’s hyperactive, energetic, and just a tad crazy – and we quite enjoy his loud, sometimes obnoxious outbreaks. He invites us out to see this DJ group called “Dengue Dengue Dengue“, which he’s been raving about. We accept and enjoy a night of good tunes and frantic dancing. It’s great! So great that Garret can’t stop raving about them.


We take a day to recover, meaning to leave Lima the following day, but that following night I catch some kind of stomach bug and spend all night vomiting my organs out and our departure is delayed. Garret recons that it’s a cosmic sign of some sort, telling us that we are to attend Dengue Dengue Dengue’s next event on Friday night.



The next night we end up going to look at the water fountain park near Estadio Nacional, Garret accompanies us (raving on about Dengue Dengue Dengue of course). I am not too excited about it but it turns out to be one of the most enjoyable nights in Lima. The fountains are great and it’s lots of fun with a lot of photo taking opportunities.



Finally on Friday night, our final night in Lima has arrived. We are set to go, and we invite Garret and the Ozzie chap in our dorm room, Henry, for a farewell beer in a pub nearby. As you may have guessed, Garret’s voodo magic doesn’t let up and we consider that it wouldn’t be at all a bad idea to go to the Dengue Dengue Dengue concert after all, and leave on Sunday instead. (Dengue Fever – definitely!)

So we give Garret the news he’s been looking forward to hear all week and we’re all off to have a big party! Ebru does make the near-fatal error of drinking Peruvian wine that night and spends the entire next day in pain. However all in all it was a good night out.

Sunday morning we saddle up, not sure we remember what riding the bike feels like. Oh well we’ll get used to it quick enough. On our way out of town we head to the little cafe overlooking the coastline, where we know they make a good coffee, and say our goodbyes to Lima from there. Two weeks you kept us here. Wish us luck!